MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino accused the Supreme Court (SC) yesterday of setting a bad precedent that could cause “chaos and paralysis” in government when it stopped the removal of Secretary Bai Omera Dianalan-Lucman of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos, one of the many midnight appointments of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Speaking to reporters, Mr. Aquino said the SC’s status quo ante order against Executive Order 2 will embolden hundreds of similarly situated appointees who had already been replaced, resigned, or recalled, to demand that they be reinstated or retained.
“And having returned to their obtained posts, what can we expect from people who accepted illegal appointments?” he said.
“This order has the potential to derail, or even nullify, our efforts to uncover and reverse midnight deals, streamline the bureaucracy, and implement reforms to bring back good governance.
“It will enable those who had participated in midnight deals to, at the very least, cover their tracks, if not complete acts inimical to the public interest.”
Mr. Aquino said the SC order granting the Lucman’s petition could affect other cases pending before the SC.
“We issued Executive Order No. 2 recalling, withdrawing, or revoking midnight appointments, because the previous administration had exceeded and abused the limits of its powers to appoint,” he said.
“We had to issue EO 2 because there were people who accepted illegal appointments. By knowingly accepting illegal appointments, they became part of a conspiracy to impede and to thwart, our people’s clamor for a return to good governance.”
Mr. Aquino said while the status quo ante order applies to only one of four petitioners, it could have far-reaching consequences.
“By focusing on the minutiae of the case, the Supreme Court effectively turned back the clock,” he said.
“It dishonors the decency of those who had the courtesy to resign. The potential result of this will be chaos and paralysis in the executive branch of government, as the legitimacy of officials appointed to replace those already removed will be cast in doubt.”
Mr. Aquino said his appointees uncovered close to a billion pesos worth of anomalous contracts that had been entered into during the Arroyo administration.
His administration cancelled those contracts and saved the government hundreds of millions of pesos, he added.
Mr. Aquino asked the SC to exercise judicial prudence at a time when Filipinos deserve confidence-building measures from all government institutions.
“We appeal to the Supreme Court to broaden its view and show... the interest of the majority,” he said.
Mr. Aquino said the order came shortly after the SC issued a similar status quo ante order preventing the House of Representatives from acting on the impeachment complaints against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez.
“That recent action of the Supreme Court tests the limits of its constitutional authority, and this latest order could precipitate a clash with another separate, co-equal branch of government,” he said.
Mr. Aquino said the country’s democracy was built on the constitutional principle of the separation of powers among the three branches of government.
“We therefore appeal, as a co-equal branch of government, for the Supreme Court to consider the implications of its order,” he said.
Aurea Calica, Philippine Star